28 Jun 4 Factors of Successful Community Management
Small companies will often build small communities during development. As a small company, your community is your greatest asset. The way you manage, and interact with your community is incredibly important to the growth and success of your brand.
Ensuring you cultivate a close-knit community can have many benefits. First, your community creates the best and most effective marketing tool you can have: word of mouth.
Engaging your community will keep your customers coming back time and time again. They will feel personally connected to your product and brand. Here are the four factors that I consider vital when managing a community.
The most important thing when communicating with your audience is that you’re always honest. Consumers aren’t stupid. Trying to avoid answering questions or obvious issues won’t build trust. Every company will experience bumps along the way, both large and small. By quickly addressing these issues in an open and honest manner, you will reassure your community that you’re tackling the problem directly.
A perfect example of this done poorly, is the recent PSN (PlayStation Network) outage. On April 20th, some parts of the network weren’t working and Sony stated it was “undergoing maintenence”. It wasn’t until April 26th that Sony finally revealed that there had been a “compromise of personal information as a result of an illegal intrusion on [their] systems.”
The attack occurred between April 17th and 19th, which means their community was in the dark about the theft of their personal information for up to 9 days. In the age of social networks and instant communication, that kind of delay isn’t acceptable. You should aim to let your community know what’s going on as soon as you know. Be sure to tell them what you’re going to do about it.
2. Consistent Updates
Keep your community active with regular updates. This is particularly important for keeping your users actively participating and sharing. Nobody wants to feel part of a group that’s no longer relevant. Even if you don’t have any consumer-related announcements to make, keep your community up to date with what’s happening behind the scenes. Inform them of future plans (be careful not to make false promises), day-to-day life and small successes. This will make them feel like part of the brand’s community, not just a customer.
The most important part of any community is communication, which works both ways. You can’t simply post updates and expect your community to respond and grow. You need to actively engage your audience. Take the time to read what they’re saying and reply to everything they reach out to you about.
Listen to your community and their ideas, but don’t follow their advice blindly. It’s important you have a strong idea of what you want to achieve with your brand. Take the ideas from your community and use them to enhance your vision. Always appreciate feedback and encourage more, whether you like the comment or not.
4. Be a Person
When engaging your community, don’t be afraid of showing that you’re a real person with a unique personality. People like other people, not businesses. If your community feels they can relate to you, they’re more likely to contribute.
Plenty of brands are finally taking note of this and making it more obvious. For example, Virgin Media starts its Twitter bio with: “We’re Sam, Billy, Pete, Michael, Kyle, Asam & Alex […]”. This helps to remind your community that your brand is made of individuals, just like them.
Hopefully you’ll find some of these points useful. Obviously community management is not black and white, but this post will get you started. By treating your community how you’d like to be treated, you can create a happy, interactive fan base.
David is Co-Founder of Lasuni, an online community for teens. His primary focus is on design, user experience and product vision. David has a particular interest in social media, online gaming and creating hand-crafted user experiences. He’s also a gadget obsessor and general technophile. You can often find him lurking on Engadget or sharing his life in 140 character snippets on Twitter [@Dasaii].